Lens Porn Monday!

(Mostly) every Monday I’ll talk about a lens I own or have used, and post some example shots I have taken with it. This week: The Minolta Rokkor-x 50mm f/1.4!

Man, what a lens.

I absolutely adore this lens. First of all, I really enjoy shooting with 50mm. It’s great to throw it in your bag and run out the door, if you’re not sure what you want to shoot with. I take my camera with me to work almost every day in a rugged haversack that’s just big enough to carry it, and one or two lenses. Chances are, I’m taking a 50mm with me, and more often than not it’s probably going to be this lens — even over my “nifty fifty” Sony 50mm 1.8.

The second reason I adore this lens, is because I just love how it feels in my hands. I find, personally, that it makes my a7 perfectly balanced — as all things should be…

This was another lens that was given to my by my uncle in 2017.Overall, I really like the Minolta Rokkor manual lenses. They are amazing pieces of glass decades after they were made and sold.But let’s get into some of the nitty gritty of this particular lens. As usual, if you’re looking for a more technical breakdown of how it performs, with vignette charts for every f-stop, you’ll be able to find plenty of those elsewhere. I’m going to just talk about the pros and cons of it that are important to me.

Minolta Rokkor-x 50mm f/1.4The original production run of the Minolta Rokkor/Rokkor-x 50mm f/1.4 lens ran from 1973 until 1977 with this particular version being manufactured in, or after 1974, when Minolta added the “X” after the Rokkor name.

Physical Dimensions
Diameter: 65mm
Length: 46mm
Weight: 305g
Filter: 55mm
Aperture Blades: 6
Close Focusing: 50cm

Construction and Build Quality
The build quality of this lens is fantastic. The lens body is pretty much all metal. The focus ring is knurled and give it a good, solid feel. It turns nice and smooth with just the right amount of “give.” The aperture ring clicks and I can work it without looking at it. From a purely cosmetic standpoint — literally one of the LAST things you should think about when picking a lens — it looks great on my a7. A very classic look.

Minolta Rokkor-x 50mm f/1.4Visual Qualities
Vignetting can be a problem up til f/2.8. once stopped down however, it’s barely noticeable. The distortion is very minor and can be easily corrected in Lightroom. CA is thoroughly average, and the flare resistance is what you would expect from a lens of this age. This can result in loss of contrast if you’re not careful. I don’t have a lens hood for this lens, but merely shielding the lens with my hand helps a lot.

Sharpness is good in the center pretty much across the board, however, the corners stay pretty soft until you stop down to at least f/8. This is one of the major drawbacks of this lens.

Bokeh
Bokeh is such an tough thing thing to rate, because I find it’s a matter of preference. That being siad, I like the bokeh the 50mm 1.4 produces. It’s not the creamiest smooth bokeh you will ever find, and many would consider it “busy” but I find it quite lovely and comparable at least to my Sony 50mm 1.8.

Sony a7 | Minolta Rokkor-x 50mm f/1.4 | Image of the magnolia blossoms taken in my yard, Spring 2018.

Sony a7 | Minolta Rokkor-x 50mm f/1.4 | Image of the magnolia blossoms taken in my yard, Spring 2018.

Pros

  • Pretty easy to find
  • Inexpensive
  • Great build quality
  • Size and weight
  • Gives your camera that classic photographer look
Cons

  • Depending on taste, bokeh can be busy
  • Flare resistance and CA
  • Vignetting below f/2.8
  • No AF if that’s important to you

Bottom Line
In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with the 50mm 1.4. I tend to use it more often than my more advanced Sony 50mm 1.8, and really enjoy the results it produces. Flaring can be an issue, so just try and be mindful of where the sun is when shooting. Overall I think this is a great lens that can be found pretty easily and  at a terrific price. if you come across one don’t hesitate to jump on it.

Five Favorite Photos

a7 | Minolta Rokkor-x 50mm f/1.4 | Looking up toward a lighting fixture at the entrance to Union Station

a7 | Minolta Rokkor-x 50mm f/1.4 | Looking up toward a lighting fixture at the entrance to Union Station

a7 | Minolta Rokkor-x 50mm f/1.4 | Blossoms on a tree near Capitol South Metro station at sunset.

a7 | Minolta Rokkor-x 50mm f/1.4 | Blossoms on a tree near Capitol South Metro station at sunset.

a7 | Minolta Rokkor-x 50mm f/1.4 | Looking up an alley toward the James Madison building on Capitol Hill

a7 | Minolta Rokkor-x 50mm f/1.4 | Looking up an alley toward the James Madison building on Capitol Hill

a7 | Minolta Rokkor-x 50mm f/1.4 | Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial at sunset.

a7 | Minolta Rokkor-x 50mm f/1.4 | Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial at sunset.

a7 | Minolta Rokkor-x 50mm f/1.4 | Vines growing up the trunk of the maple tree in my back yard.

a7 | Minolta Rokkor-x 50mm f/1.4 | Vines growing up the trunk of the maple tree in my back yard.

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